Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 September 2022
This chapter traces the architectural development of the imperial palaces in Rome, with emphasis on the Flavian palace. The imperial residences in Rome show us how power and stratification were embodied in architecture; they also tell us something about social practices within the imperial court. The chapter sets the background by examining the residence of Augustus, which was an assemblage of aristocratic houses adjacent to a sacred area, and Nero’s Domus Aurea, which sought to create spaces for leisure (otium) reminiscent of villas and suburban gardens (horti). With the Flavian palace, an enduring model for the Roman imperial palace was defined. It offered a flexible assemblage of spaces, some of them suited to the social rituals of court life, including the salutatio and banquets, and others providing spaces for otium. The success of the model was such that elements were imitated in the palaces of the Tetrarchic period.
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